When John Lewis picked Kim Gehrig to direct its latest Christmas ad, "Man in the Moon," the department store confirmed the ascendance this year of the director's own star.
Landing the prestigious project, especially in the footsteps of longtime helmer Dougal Wilson, is a huge honor in the U.K., where the launch of the annual campaign by Adam&Eve/DDB is hotly anticipated.
The project places Ms. Gehrig, represented by Somesuch, among the ranks of the most sought-after directors and follows multiple accolades for the Australia-born, England-based director, in particular for her "This Girl Can" ad for Sport England. The spot, by FCB Inferno, put the likes of Adidas and Nike to shame as it focused closely on real women's bodies -- cellulite, sweat and all -- in a bid to get more women to play sports.
Ms. Gehrig's 2015 work also included Honda's "Stepping," a beautifully choreographed spot from McGarryBowen London, based on the Japanese phenomenon of "precision walking."
A former creative at Mother, Ms. Gehrig told AdAge earlier this year that she believed her unisex first name had helped her get a foot in the door with agencies that assumed she was a man. She also expressed wariness of being pigeonholed as a "women's director."
With John Lewis under her belt, it looks like she no longer needs to worry on either account.
Ad Age: How did you feel when you were approached about the John Lewis ad?
Kim Gehrig: Honestly, I felt incredibly daunted when I was approached to do John Lewis. I considered not taking it, as following Dougal and the whole John Lewis legacy was pretty intimidating. The team at Adam&Eve, however, were so charming and intelligent when I met them I felt compelled to give it a shot.
Ad Age: What was the biggest creative challenge this year? Was it working on one of those two spots?
Ms. Gehrig: I think John Lewis was probably one of the biggest creative challenges this year, for sure. But the Honda "Stepping" spot … had loads of mathematical choreography and was really full-on. We had six weeks of rehearsals and it felt like we were shooting every day of that. It was mentally very taxing.
Ad Age: What's your personal definition of creativity?
Ms. Gehrig: That's a hard one. I guess for me, creativity is about following an instinct, letting my gut guide me and then keeping on going until it tells me to stop.
Ad Age: Do you think your career trajectory this year should inspire other women who want to direct?
Ms. Gehrig: I do hope so. I often forget that I am one of the few women doing what I do. It seems crazy that is the case. I'd love young girls to feel confident that there is a career path in directing and commercials that they could absolutely follow. If I can help inspire that, I would be thrilled.
Ad Age: What's next on the horizon for you? What can we look out for in 2016?
Ms. Gehrig: Something entirely different. I don't like to do the same thing twice.